Every year on the 8th May the town band plays in
Orleans, "la Marche des Soldats de R. Bruce" and the programme
records "Of Scottish Origin it was introduced into France in the
To this tune Burns wrote "Scots Wha Hae" on
hearing of the fall of the Bastille which, as a civil servant, he dared
not name. The same song was sung at the end of Chartist meetings in the
19th century. What other song has such a history?
Played at Bannockburn - played when Joan of Arc entered
Orleans - the words inspired by the French Revolution - sung as the anthem
of democracy in the 18th century, and still sung by Scottish Nationalists.
The manuscript according to the programme quoted was
preserved in the Castle of Blois. There the librarian told me that the
library had been divided between two Paris libraries. When I wrote to both
neither had any trace of it. Where is it? Some research student at a
Scottish university might find this a subject for a Ph. D.!
This is taken from Holinsheds Chronicles:
"After this, in the month of September, he (the
Duke of Bedford) layde his siege on the one side of the water of Loyre and
besieged the town of Orleaunce, before whose coming the Bastard of
Orleaunce and the Bishop of the Citie and a great number of Scottes,
hering of the Erls intent, made divers fortifications about the town
and destroyed the suburbes in which were Xii Parische Churches and foure
orders of Friars. They cut also downe all the vines, trees and bushes
within five leagues of the towne so that the English men should not have
neyther comfort, refuge nor succour. The Bishop who out-Knoxed Knox was
John Carmichael. Not one French historian noted that fact that the Scots
under their Scottish Bishop and Dunois were responsible for the successful
defence of Orleans against the English.
The influence of the Franco-Scottish Alliance has been
underestimated by the Scots and has never been recognised in France, where
the historians have been persistently anti-Scottish.
Incidentally, the same Charles at a time of crisis is
reported to have entered a chapel and to have prayed to God to allow him
to retire either to Spain or to Scotland, which had always been friends of
the French Crown. He did not arrive but Charles X did. (He lived in
Holyroodhouse.) This country also provided a refuge for his successor
Louis Philippe, who took a new title of "King of the French"
instead of King of France to show that he was "le Roi Citoyen".
No one has pointed out that his title was the copy of the Scottish title
with which he must have become familiar during his exile.
The decree by which Louis the Twelfth gave all Scots of
whatever class the rights of French nationality refers to ten thousand
Scots who fought for France as having "exposed their bodies against
the English so boldly that they were driven out".
In other words it was our ancestors who won the Hundred
Years War arid liberated the French from English domination.
The Post-Master General has refused my proposal for an
Auld Alliance Stamp on the ground that Hume Brown did not regard 1168 as
the beginning of it.
It is never wise to quote an author whom you have never
read. Hume Brown, on Page 101 of volume 1 of his History, gives that date.
So does Sir Robert Rait. So does Agnes Mure MacKenzie. So does Andrew
Mr Edward Short, the English Post-Master General, has
all the Scottish historians against him!